AI: FoundationAl Information

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What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science dedicated to creating systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include learning, decision-making, problem-solving, perception, and understanding natural language. AI technologies utilize algorithms, large data sets, and computational power to mimic human cognitive functions, aiming to improve efficiency, accuracy, and to automate processes across various industries. From voice-activated assistants to autonomous vehicles and sophisticated data analysis tools, AI's applications are vast and continually expanding, pushing the boundaries of what machines can achieve.

Within the whole of AI, generative AI, and Large Language Models (LLMs) in particular, represent the most familiar examples to many of us. Generative AI, particularly through LLMs like ChatGPT, is designed to understand, generate, and interact with human language at an unprecedented scale. These models are trained on vast amounts of text data, enabling them to grasp nuances, contexts, and even the subtleties of different languages and dialects. Consequently, LLMs can produce coherent and contextually relevant text, engage in dialogue, summarize information, translate languages, and even generate creative content. They are the backbone of technologies such as chatbots, advanced search engines, and various tools that require a sophisticated understanding of language, fundamentally transforming how humans interact with machines and access information.

Henrik Kniberg "Generative AI in a Nutshell - how to survive and thrive in the age of AI" Jan. 20, 2024 (17.56).  A brief introductory overview of AI. 

Prairie Pulse: Joe Kennedy and Artifact Spotlight Kittson County Historical Museum Oct. 12. 2023 (23:00). An interview of Concordia's own Joe Kennedy. Good presentation of what AI is and more. 

"The secret sauce for Taiwan's chip superstardom." BBC Dec. 16, 2023. A brief news article about the Taiwan's central role in microchip production. 

Rob Toews  "AI’s Single Point of Failure." Dec. 14, 2023 (11:33). TED talk in the importance of Taiwan in microchip production. 

Ilya Sutskever "The Exciting, Perilous Journey Toward AGI." Nov. 20, 2023 (12:24) A TED talk from Ilya Sutskever – a founder of OpenAI 

The Tranformative Potential of AGI - And When it Might Arrive - Shane Legg and Chris Anderson, Dec 7, 2023 (16:11). Shane Legg is the cofounder of Google DeepMind

What is Bias in AI?

Bias in Artificial Intelligence refers to systematic and unfair discrimination present in the outputs of AI systems. This bias often arises from the data used to train AI models, which can reflect historical inequalities, societal stereotypes, or other forms of prejudice inherent in human decision-making processes. Bias in AI can manifest in various applications, from facial recognition systems and hiring tools to credit scoring and law enforcement algorithms, potentially perpetuating and amplifying existing disparities. Addressing AI bias involves implementing rigorous data collection and analysis practices, fostering diversity in development teams, and applying ethical guidelines to ensure AI systems perform fairly and equitably across different groups and individuals. Efforts to mitigate bias in AI are critical to harnessing the technology's benefits while minimizing harm, ensuring that AI advances contribute to more just and inclusive outcomes.

Crash Course “Algorithmic Bias and Fairness: Crash Course AI #18” December 13, 2019 (11:19) An overview of the issue of bias in training sets for AI.

How does AI currently impact society?

Artificial Intelligence has already made significant impacts on society, reshaping how we live, work, and interact. In healthcare, AI systems are revolutionizing patient care through personalized treatment plans and faster, more accurate diagnostics. Education is being transformed by adaptive learning technologies that cater to the individual needs of students, enhancing learning outcomes. In the business world, AI-driven automation and data analytics are optimizing operations, improving customer experiences, and driving innovation. However, these advancements also bring challenges, such as concerns over privacy, job displacement in certain sectors, and ethical dilemmas around AI decision-making. The current impact of AI is thus a blend of remarkable benefits and complex challenges, necessitating thoughtful engagement and policy-making to harness its potential responsibly.

"The historic struggle between workers and the technology that could put them out of a job." Dec. 21 2023 (7:47). PBS NewsHour segment with Paul Solmon about AI and job displacement.

Brian Merchant "The New Luddites Aren’t Backing Down" Feb. 2, 2024". An Atlantic article about the new Luddites.

Adrienne LaFrance "The Rise Of Techno-Authoritarianism." Jan. 30, 2024.  An Atlantic article about the rise of techno-authoritarianism.

The Pope's Statment on AI and a CNN report on that

Mark Douglas "Made in whose image? Brief reflections on artificial intelligence and the future of ministry." Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology, Nov. 18 2023. A Lutheran pastoral perspective on AI.

How will AI impact society?

Looking forward, Artificial Intelligence will undoubtably deepen its impact on society, with potential effects that are both expansive and transformative. As AI technologies advance, they will play a crucial role in addressing global challenges such as climate change, by optimizing energy consumption and contributing to sustainable practices. In the realm of work, AI is expected to redefine job roles and create new employment opportunities, emphasizing the need for skills that complement AI capabilities. Ethical considerations will become even more critical as AI systems take on more autonomous roles in decision-making, necessitating robust frameworks to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability. Moreover, AI's role in enhancing public services, from smarter urban planning to personalized education, promises to make societies more inclusive and efficient. The future impact of AI on society hinges on a balanced approach that leverages technological advances for the common good while mitigating risks and ensuring equitable benefits.

Mustafa Suleyman: How can AI be safely developed? HARDtalk BBC World Service Sept. 13 2023 (22:59). Podcast with Mustafa Suleyman Co-founder of Deepmind.

Yojana Sharma "Experts share fears over cultural impacts of generative AI" University World News Dec 7, 2023. A brief article addressing concerns surrounding AI.

Max Tegmark How to Keep AI Under Control TED Nov. 2 2023 (12:10).  Max Tegmark is a well-known scientist and futurist.

Charles Weir Interlinked Computing in 2040: Safety, Truth, Ownership, and Accountability, Computer, 2024 IEEE. The authors highlight five key forecasts related to artificial intelligence and system complexity, and suggest six interventions to mitigate negative impacts. And a review by Sabine Hossenfelder of the paper (6:59).

How will AI impact higher education and what is higher educations role in shaping progress in AI?

The impact of Artificial Intelligence on higher education is both transformative and dual-directional, fundamentally altering how education is delivered and engaging higher education institutions in shaping the future of AI itself. AI technologies offer the potential to personalize learning experiences, making them more adaptive to individual student needs, preferences, and learning paces. This can lead to improved student engagement, retention, and outcomes. AI-driven analytics can help educators identify students who are struggling and provide targeted interventions. Moreover, AI can streamline administrative tasks, allowing institutions to allocate resources more efficiently and focus on their core educational mission.

Higher education plays a crucial role in shaping the progress of AI by conducting cutting-edge research, developing ethical frameworks, and training the next generation of AI professionals and researchers. Universities and colleges are at the forefront of exploring the capabilities and limitations of AI, pushing technological boundaries, and addressing critical questions related to bias, privacy, and the broader societal implications of AI technologies. By integrating AI ethics and responsible AI practices into the curriculum, higher education institutions ensure that graduates not only possess advanced technical skills but also understand the societal impact of their work. This symbiotic relationship between AI and higher education is vital for fostering innovation that aligns with societal values and needs, ensuring that the development of AI benefits humanity as a whole.

Special Report: AI and Higher Education University World News March 2023. A comprehensive special issue on AI in higher education

K. G. Schmidt What the humanities can offer in this technological moment: The growth of artificial intelligence is opening a conversation for which ethicists and theologians are uniquely qualified. The Christian Century February 2024. A short article on how the humanities can help with the current technological moment.